For most people, vision is the most significant way of receiving and interpreting information from the world. Scientists still lack knowledge of the deepest inner workings of the brain, so there's no exact statistic to back this up, but most experts agree that vision is our dominant sense. But people with vision impairment experience the world through entirely different mechanisms. It's not better or worse - it's simply different.
Blindness does come with its share of challenges, though, considering most of the world is designed with sighted people in mind. As a result, living with limited vision means blind people have to find other ways to handle some things most people take for granted.
You Have To Deal With People Being Condescending
Most people with visual impairment will tell you they don't really consider blindness a disability. It's just that blind people have to process information differently. Unfortunately, the fact that blind people are fully able to speak for themselves and assert their abilities doesn't change the way many sighted people view them.
As blind Redditor /u/thetj87 said in a Q&A, the hardest part about being blind is "getting people to move beyond their own preconceived notions and expectations of a blind person." When asked whether people were condescending to him, he said:
Yes, this is something I experience pretty frequently. Often I find that people expect me to have much more limited capabilities, due to my blindness. Frequently if I'm out at a restaurant, the server will ask whoever I'm with what I would like rather than asking me, as if somehow blindness means I will be unable to communicate to them my desire.
Taking The Stickers Off Produce Is A Chore
You know how every piece of produce these days has some sticker on it that you need to peel off before you can enjoy your fruit or vegetable? Those frustrating little buggers adhere closely to the item's skin, making them difficult to discern by touch - sometimes they can only be identified visually.
For a blind person who doesn't take the arduous time to de-sticker their produce, a little glue might be the extra spice added to their fruits and veggies.
Getting Around A City Requires Hard-Coded Memory
Most people take their ability to walk around a city for granted, so they would be completely lost if forced to close their eyes and navigate by memory. For most blind people, keeping a clear mental image of their surroundings is absolutely necessary.
"Most of my navigation is based upon mental mapping," said Redditor /u/thetj87. "I am fortunate to have a really strong sense of direction and the ability to memorize things very quickly."
Large Sections Of The Internet Are Unusable
Pretty much every major operating system on the planet has some kind of software that will help translate the words on your screen into audio messages. Unfortunately, most of these accessibility systems aren't very high-tech.
According to Paul Schroeder, VP of Programs and Policy for the American Foundation for the Blind, "When you log onto a website using screen reading software, what you start with is a site that tells you how many lines, and some basic structure - but not very much. When you're experiencing a cluttered site, the information you want may be 300-400 lines in, and if you're going line by line, or section by section, it can take you a very long time to find what you want."
In other words, despite all the incredible things we can do with technology, you might have to listen to the entire contents of a webpage - in linear order - if you are unable to see it.